At the end of his book, the author briefly blesses his readers. He has taught them, and now he blesses them. In other words, he writes words that declare Godís goodness to them. Paul did this at the end of each of his letters, and other Christian leaders also did it (for example, Revelation 22:21).
God told Israelís priests that they should bless the people (Numbers 6:22-27). That is, they should speak words to declare Godís goodness to them. But the custom that a priest should bless Godís people is much more ancient than this. Melchizedek blessed Abraham (Hebrews 7:6-7).
When a priest blessed someone, it was both a prayer and a declaration. So, there is a prayer, as here, that the person would know Godís kindness. The priest spoke that prayer on behalf of the person.
But, at the same time, the priest made a declaration on Godís behalf. The priest was declaring that God would show his kindness.
The first Christian leaders did not teach that they alone were priests. Jesus was their chief priest (Hebrews 3:1). But every Christian belonged to Godís nation of priests (1 Peter 2:9). Every Christian could have the closest possible relationship with God (Hebrews 10:19-22).
Every Christian has both the authority and the duty to work for God (Matthew 7:21). But God has appointed some people especially to serve other Christians (Ephesians 4:11-12). We usually call those people Ďleadersí, but they should consider themselves Godís servants, or even his slaves (Mark 10:43-44). And it is those people who now bless Godís people. They bless by their actions, and not just by their words.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.